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How Does Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation Work?


Not everyone is comfortable getting breast implants. Breast augmentation surgery with implants gives you the most dramatic results if your goal is to increase the size of your breasts and is a very safe procedure. But some people feel uncomfortable placing a foreign object into their breasts. Other people may think that breast implants create an unnatural look and feel. 

How Can You Increase Breast Size Without Implants?

Dr. David Liland in Dallas has a rich experience in several breast procedures. To provide patients with the results they desire in the way they feel the most comfortable, he offers fat transfer breast augmentation as an alternative to breast implants. Although breast augmentation with implants continues to be the most popular breast enhancement procedure, fat transfer is gaining popularity as a natural, long-lasting alternative.

What Happens During Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation?

When patients visit Dr. Liland hoping to enhance their breasts without breast implants, he usually recommends fat transfer breast augmentation. Using liposuction techniques to remove fat from stubborn areas such as the inner thighs, stomach, back, or flanks and then removing any impurities, he can safely transfer it to the breasts. Breast augmentation with fat transfer creates long-lasting results as it uses your body’s fat, which naturally settles into your breasts and may increase over time.

Fat transfer breast augmentation requires general anesthesia, and the procedure itself can take 3-5 hours as it involves liposuctioning the fat from another part of the body, harvesting it through a centrifuge, and then injecting it into your breasts in precise areas for best shape and contour.

You can safely increase your breast size by one or two cup sizes with a fat transfer breast augmentation.  Or, if this is your goal, you can simply restore lost volume after breastfeeding, biopsies, or a lumpectomy.

One significant advantage of fat transfer breast augmentation is that it combines the body-sculpting benefits of liposuction with those of breast enhancement. You get a subtle increase in breast size from the fat transfer, but you’ll also have unwanted fat removed from stubborn areas. For example, if the fat is from your stomach area, you’ll get a slightly “snatched waist” along with larger breasts.

What Are The Benefits Of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation?

According to RealSelf, fat transfer breast augmentation surgery has an 87% “worth-it” rating based on over 1,000 patient reviews. Some of the most popular benefits of the procedure reported by patients include:

  • Adds volume to the upper pole and improves cleavage
  • Creates permanent and more natural-looking results than breast implants
  • Improves asymmetry
  • Adds volume to “deflated” breasts after pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Increases volume in the breast and takes away unwanted fat and size from other areas like the stomach or thighs

Is Fat Transfer Safer Than Breast Implants For Breast Augmentation?

Fat transfer breast augmentation has fewer complications than traditional, implant-based breast augmentation, but it only creates a subtle enlargement compared to breast implants. Breast implants can lead to more severe complications than fat grafting, such as capsular contractures or ruptures.

Patients often opt for breast implant exchange at some point after having a breast augmentation with implants to replace their old implants, but fat transfer breast augmentation results are permanent.

Does A Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation Affect Mammograms?

Breast augmentation with fat transfer does not affect mammogram results or increase your risk of breast cancer. Fat transfer only adds more fat to your breasts, so tumors are still easily visible in your mammogram results.

What Are The Risks Of Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation?

Though chances of serious complications are low, fat transfer breast augmentation has some risks to be aware of, including:

  • Bleeding and bruising
  • Fat cell death or movement of fat cells
  • Infection 
  • Microcalcifications (non-cancerous breast calcifications)

How Long Does A Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation Last?

You’ll be able to enjoy your fat-transfer breast augmentation results for the rest of your life. It can take up to six months to see your results, though, as your transferred fat cells take time to settle in their new places, where they’ll remain permanently.

In some cases, some fat cells may be absorbed by the body and shrink your results, but this usually happens within those six months of settlement. Dr. Liland may ask you to return when the fat has settled to ensure no fat cells have absorbed and left you with an undesired result. If, for some reason, the fat shrinks or dies and impacts your results, he may inject more fat once you’ve fully healed.

A review on fat grafting to the breasts says patients can expect about 40% volume loss over time after fat transfer breast augmentation, but this varies depending on technique and body type.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation?

If you want a subtle increase in the size of your breasts, you should be able to achieve your goals with fat-transfer breast augmentation. If you want to increase the size of your breasts significantly, implants would be the better option. Fat transfer breast augmentation is not ideal if you have very little body fat, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Fat transfer breast augmentation is an excellent option for women who have lost volume in their breasts due to weight loss or pregnancy. It can restore the fullness they once had, improve the shape, and even remove and relocate stubborn fat left over in the midsection.

Fat grafting is often performed during breast reconstruction surgery to help rebuild and reshape the breasts following medical conditions such as breast cancer.

Patients typically opt for fat transfer breast augmentation after having explant surgery, or breast implant removal, to retain some volume after removing their implants. Adding subtle volume and removing any excess skin following implant removal can help patients feel confident and comfortable, as this will address any stretched-skin issues caused by the implant.

Other characteristics of a suitable fat-transfer breast augmentation candidate may include:

  • You’re in good overall health
  • You have enough breast volume to add fat
  • You have good tissue quality
  • You have enough fat available somewhere on your body to achieve your desired result
  • You don’t smoke
  • You have realistic expectations of results

Can Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation Be Combined With A Breast Lift?

When patients visit Dr. Liland for a breast lift and need a subtle volume boost, he often includes fat grafting in breast lift (mastopexy) surgery. These two procedures can create remarkable results as they lift and reshape the breasts for a rejuvenated contour and projection.

Breast surgery with fat grafting alone doesn’t correct sagging breasts. We recommend combining your fat transfer breast augmentation with a breast lift to achieve the volume and placement you desire to create firmer-looking breasts.

Fat transfer can also be a great addition to breast reduction to maintain fullness in the upper breasts and highlight the contour of the cleavage area.

Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation Recovery: What To Expect

You can get back to regular activities such as work or going to the store within a few days, but the entire recovery for fat transfer breast augmentation lasts several weeks. You’ll experience mild soreness for the first week, and any bruising should fade within a few weeks. The swelling takes months to diminish completely.

During your recovery following fat transfer breast augmentation, we recommend that you:

  • Avoid heavy lifting or cardio for the first few weeks
  • Do not sleep on your stomach for at least the first month, avoiding pressure on your breasts
  • Wear a compression bra for the first few days, then transition to a regular bra as directed by your doctor to provide support and maximize the fat’s survival

Considering Breast Augmentation With Fat Transfer?

If you’re interested in augmenting your breasts but prefer not to get breast implants, you may be an excellent candidate for a fat transfer breast augmentation. Request a consultation with Dallas plastic surgeon Dr. David Liland, renowned for delivering outstanding breast surgery results, to discuss your goals and see whether this procedure is your best option.